The upcoming show of the new year at the Academy Art Museum marks another step toward greater access to notable works by not only emerging artists but also masters from centuries past.
“Mary Cassatt: Labor and Leisure,” opening Jan. 19, accompanied by a tandem “Labor and Leisure” show drawn from the museum’s permanent collection, includes oils, aquatints, and other etchings by one of the premier 19th-to-20th century American-born artists. And certainly, among women who were then disparaged in competing with males in any form of visual art, Cassatt stands as one of if not the most accomplished female American artists of her time.
Besides pieces from AAM’s own collection – including works by Cassatt, as well as Cezanne, Rauschenberg, and David Hockney – art on loan from the New York Public Library, Adelson Gallery New York and Atlanta’s High Museum of Art signals a serious glimpse into Cassatt’s career, progressing from Impressionist painter to painterly printmaker.
These loans follow AAM’s collaboration with Art Bridges, a fine-art nonprofit that helps small-to-medium museums gain access to critically acclaimed artworks. The late-summer/early-fall “Fickle Mirror” exhibit was enhanced by a loan of Nigerian-American artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s “I Refuse to Be Invisible,” among other paintings and related live events.
While Cassatt disdained being pigeonholed as a female artist, her subjects were often mother and child as reflected in the labor of homemaker and the leisure of parent-and-progeny playtime. But she did so mainly as an observer. Cassatt was never a mother. Nor did she marry. Art was her passion.
New for 2023, Academy Art Museum admission will be free for all, starting Jan. 3.
Speaking of free admission, there are only a few days left to absorb the National Gallery of Art’s extraordinary “Sargent and Spain” exhibition. John Singer Sargent, another American-born painter, was regarded as the preeminent society portraitist of his time (1856-1926). But here, more than 120 oils, watercolors, and drawings – many rarely seen anywhere – capture his personal fascination with Spain that inspired this remarkable collection documenting his travels through the country – north to south and the island of Majorca. The show reflects a rich Spanish culture through lush landscapes, shimmering marine scenes, and depictions of everyday life with candid portraits of people he met in his travels. Don’t overlook the 28 photographs very likely taken by Sargent himself. The last day to catch “Sargent and Spain” is Jan. 2.
Also closing soon – Jan. 8 – is the compact “Vermeer’s Secrets” exploration of works by or attributed to the revered 17th-century Dutch painter. There are only about 35 paintings by Johannes Vermeer as far as we know, of which the National Gallery has four that are by or credibly attributed to him. Featured are “Woman Holding a Balance,” “A Lady Writing,” “Girl with the Red Hat,” and “Girl with a Flute,” along with two others ranging from highly questionable to ridiculously fake. But this is no mere display of masterpieces and forgeries. Decades of research by conservators, curators, and scientists are revealed in examples of image sleuthing and technology. The popularity of this exhibit, especially as it closes soon, makes it necessary for visitors to sign up upon arrival to receive a text with the time to show up for a walk-through. You may have an hour or more to spend on checking out the Sargent show or “Carpaccio: Master Storyteller of Renaissance Venice,” which remains open through Feb. 12. And, yes, it’s all free, except for the Bay Bridge toll and maybe Mall parking (free on Sundays).
The “British Invasion Experience” dinner and show, long postponed from its original Oct. 1 date, has been rescheduled for Jan. 14 at Salisbury’s Wicomico Civic Center. The British Invasion Experience tribute band pays live concert homage to this historic rock-and-roll genre. For baby-boomer popular music fans, it all began in the early ’60s with The Beatles, followed closely and to this day by the still-rockin’ Rolling Stones. But there were so many more–from The Who to the Hollies, the Kinks to Cream, The Animals to The Yardbirds. The show begins at 7 p.m. on Jan. 14, with doors opening at 6 for dining choices from a menu of Irish stew, fish and chips, baked ham, chicken tikka plus sides, and dessert. Cash bar alcohol beverages available. Ticket sales close at 4 p.m. on Jan. 11.
The Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra’s (MSO) second annual Elizabeth Loker Concerto Competition moved toward its live phase, with invitations going out on Dec. 19 for finalists to perform before a panel of judges on Jan. 12.
The first prize is $2,000, and performances with the orchestra are on March 9-11. The second prize is $500 and concert gigs in MSO’s Ensemble Series (dates to be determined). Finalists are selected by blind judging of audio recordings. The finals, before a public audience as well as judges, will be at Easton’s Avalon Theatre. The winner of the inaugural competition was alto saxophonist Joseph McNure, a University of Maryland graduate music student.
The late Elizabeth Loker, for whom the competition is named, was a retired Washington Post executive who moved to Talbot County and, as a classical music aficionado, became a Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra board member and benefactor
“Mary Cassatt: Labor and Leisure”
Academy Art Museum, 106 South St., Easton
“Sargent and Spain” & “Vermeer’s Secrets”
National Gallery of Art, 6th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.
The British Invasion Experience
Wicomico Civic Center, 500 Glen Ave., Salisbury
MSO Elizabeth Loker Concerto Competition Finals
Avalon Theater, 40 E. Dover St., Easton
Steve Parks is a retired New York arts writer and editor now living in Easton.